Sometimes we have to do things in life that we don’t like so that we become better.
That’s what I blurted out to my eight year old son Elijah as he grumbled and slammed a piece of paper on the table because I was making him write out his spelling words four times.
Mind you, he was happy five minutes earlier, but now his entire world was crashing down over the words eight, vein, tray and strain.
I hate you.
That’s what I heard.
Normally, I’d be chill and calm, but tonight I had had enough. I’d had enough of the noise and the grumbling over dinner. I had enough when they took the cheese for the tacos that half of the cheese fell before hitting the plate. I had enough that the solution for when they are unhappy with me making rules they tell me they don’t want to live with me because I am so strict. I had enough of being misunderstood. I had enough.
And I’m not going to bed.
Those words came out next after I sent him from the table up the stairs to his room without dessert, without finishing spelling words and without brushing teeth. I know. Horrors.
Sometimes I feel like he does.
Just simply mad and angry that I have to deal with the same thing day in and day out. I don’t like having to repeat stuff a hundred times and still find the wrappers from Cheetohs stuffed in the corner.
I tell you. I work my tail off for my kids and when they freak out over spelling words or when I say enough Minecraft or wipe up that taco sauce that sometimes I just want to snap back with words that are crabby. Especially when I hear you don’t love me or you don’t care or I don’t want to be with you.
Motherhood is full of these kind of days, isn’t it? Days where you just want to say fine, that’s great, it’s good to hear what you think about me and then get in the car and drive to Starbucks and chill. And order an extra shot with whipped cream (I know daring, right?). But we don’t. We can’t. Instead, I found myself putting a very very crabby eight year old to bed and sitting downstairs being told that I’m mean.
Well, maybe I am mean. (Read to the mean mom)
And that’s okay. Because that’s what being a mom is honestly. It’s so not about all these grandiose things but is rather us counting to 125 and trying to get them to do those spelling words again. Oh, let me be real with you, I could so not care about those words. It would be way way way easier to not care and to let him spell vein vain (which it could be, haha, what until he gets to homophones), but I don’t. I don’t let them spill the cheese and sauce and not clean it up either. And I don’t allow them to sass back or yell either.
And they don’t like it and sometimes it makes me feel like the worst mom ever. Because truthfully, sometimes I don’t have the best and most brilliant solutions in those moments. Sometimes I’ll simply retort go to bed right now and don’t learn your words and get a low grade but don’t think it’s because I didn’t try to help you. Sometimes I’ll go upstairs and shut my door just enough to make a point.
It’s not easy.
But the reason it’s not easy is because we love our kids and fight for them. I know he can spell those words. I know my kids can be respectful. I want to give them opportunities so I work. I enforce media times so that we learn self control. And on and on and on.
Maybe those times when we feel like we’ve had a horrible day or a failing day are actually the days where we had to stick to our guns and fight for those kids? Have you thought about that perspective for those days?
I know it’s not easy negotiating with crazy two year olds. I know. I had to do it seven times. I know it’s no fun when the middle schooler thinks you’re dumb. I know it’s hard when there is nothing to eat. I know. It is so much giving giving giving.
I’m sorry mom.
He yelled that down the stairs about fifteen minutes later.
I forgive you Elijah.
I told him that without hesitating.
You don’t have to – you shouldn’t.
That’s what he told me.
Elijah, I love you and forgive you.
And then I heard the tears. Sobbing tears from that little boy who said some mean things about his mom but still deep deep down he loved her. He loved the mom who fought for him and made him write tray another four more times.
What can I do but love him in that moment? What can I do but realize how much he wants to be good but sometimes it’s hard?
You can do this.
I know it’s hard. I know that you love your kids. Somehow I think we thought motherhood could be this grand linear equation that we solve. We think if we add a and b and c and d together then we will get kids that work out. But motherhood is so fluid and is the antithesis of logic at times. It’s dynamic and moving and never stagnant.
A for you could be b for me.
Motherhood, instead is a beautiful painting that we won’t see the beauty completely until it’s finished.
Right now it may be filled with I hate you’s and tough calls and sleepless nights. It may be full of days where you feel like you’ve failed. It may be times when you just need friend.
But it’s a painting. Each day another color, a stroke, a story – with moments melding together.
I love you so much Elijah. That’s why I believe in you.
That’s what I told him when I hugged him tonight.
I believe in you too.
Yes, you, you the mom reading this right now.
It’s a painting friend.
And most of the time it looks like a mess right before it’s finished.